The recent announcement of the helmet detection/face recognition cameras to be installed at five locations in Phuket, at a cost of B16 million, seems like a step in the right direction for improving rates of helmet use on the island. The cameras will reportedly scan number plates and combine them with face-recognition data to automatically issue fines to the vehicle owner’s registered address. (See story here.)
This latest measure comes on top of an increase in the number of speed-detection guns and alcohol breathalysers in use by the Phuket Provincial Police in the past year. The fact that this recent uptake in road safety technology has been driven by the UK-based non-profit Safer Roads Foundation can be read as a positive sign that local authorities are taking note of international standards and practices for road safety.
At first look, it seems that fines issued to the vehicle’s registers owner may not end up punishing the person who was actually operating it, but process is still an important step in creating an accountable system for traffic offences. By automatically issuing fines to the registered owner, it avoids the grey area of on-the-spot fines issued by police, which arguably have little impact on rider behaviour.
Once fines are legally issued and recorded, it begins to pave the way for the creation of a demerit-point style system which takes into account a person’s past driving behaviour and is ultimately able revoke their licence, and even hand down custodial sentences, after a certain number of infractions.
Despite the inevitable cries of, “It wasn’t me!”, if the system is maintained and unpaid fines have legal consequences, it could begin to encourage and strengthen the overall culture of road-safety and encourage personal responsibility for who is allowed to drive a vehicle registered under your name.
Again, despite the inevitable problems with rolling out such a system, both technological and legal, we should all encourage these efforts and acknowledge them as the initial scaffolding necessary to create a system that will hold people accountable for both the vehicles they own and their own actions on the road.